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MP Tynkkynen's hate speech sentence upheld, plans appeal to European Court of Human Rights

The ex-leader of the Finns Party's youth wing may face further charges in a third hate speech case.

Kansanedustaja Sebastian Tynkkynen PS, täysistunnossa
MP Sebastian Tynkkynen has been convicted hate speech twice and is being investigated in a third case. Image: Pekka Tynell / Yle

An appeals court in northern Finland has upheld MP Sebastian Tynkkynen's conviction for incitement against an ethnic group.

Last autumn, the District Court of Lapland found the Finns Party legislator guilty of incitement against an ethnic group and fined him just over 4,000 euros. The ruling was based on a Facebook post showing photos of terrorists with the words "they all worship Allah".

Tynkkynen asked the Rovaniemi Court of Appeal to overturn the ruling or to reduce his fine, which it declined to do.

He had argued that the post was political expression that was protected by freedom of speech. Tynkkynen also claimed that the text only referred to certain individuals, and did not imply that terrorism is unique to Islam.

Court: Freedom of speech must be exercised responsibly

The district court declared that while it is appropriate to publicly discuss problems related to immigration, freedom of speech must be exercised responsibly.

"It is crucially important that politicians avoid using expressions in their public statements that encourage intolerance," the court said.

At the time of the post in 2016, Tynkkynen was the leader of the Finns Party's youth wing. He was later elected to the Oulu city council and Parliament.

The first-term MP says he does not intend to edit his social media comments. He has been interviewed at the Oulu police station regarding another ongoing investigation that could lead to charges against him in a third hate speech case.

Plans to take case to Strasbourg

Tynkkynen says he does not expect his own party to take any measures as a result of the appeals court ruling.

He plans to take the case to Finland's Supreme Court and to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

This is Tynkkynen's second hate speech conviction. In early 2017 Oulu District Court found him guilty of incitement against an ethnic group and violating the Act on the Freedom of Religion over his comments on Muslims. Based on his income, he was fined 300 euros.

Both the appeals court and Supreme Court rejected his appeals in that case.

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